Seasons turn around on short notice, and the Baltimore Orioles hope shortstop Cal Ripken gave theirs a twist tonight.
Ripken's second homer in as many nights, a tremendous shot into the left field seats in the seventh inning, scored Fred Lynn in front of him to give Storm Davis and the Orioles a 2-1 victory over the California Angels before 16,651 at Memorial Stadium.
Ripken's homer, his fifth of the season, brought the Orioles from a 1-0 deficit on a night when California starter Mike Witt (3-4) took a one-hitter into the seventh inning and had faced only one batter over the six-inning minimum of 18.
The Orioles had appeared to be on the verge of giving another game away. The only California run was scored after Davis had wild-pitched rookie Wally Joyner (three for four) into scoring position and then given up a broken-bat, opposite-field bloop single to Brian Downing.
"I've lost games like that before," Davis said, "but I couldn't start thinking about that. The way we've been going lately, we've been finding ways to win, and tonight it was Rip coming through in the clutch."
As it was, Davis (4-2) scattered eight hits over 8 1/3 innings and Don Aase got the final two outs for his 10th save. With the victory, an Orioles home stand that looked as if it were about to turn sour has turned the other way again. The victory was the Orioles' ninth in 11 games and pushed them back to a record of 21-16.
Ripken was in a five-for-38 slump when he hit a home run off Kirk McCaskill in the Orioles' 6-4 loss to the Angels Tuesday night, and he had grounded out and struck out when he came to bat with two outs and Lynn on first in the seventh inning tonight.
He fell behind Witt, 1-2, but then reached out and hit a low breaking ball into the seats just above the Orioles' bullpen in left.
"It's not a happy day when you've got to face Mike Witt," Ripken said. "He had nasty stuff, but he always has nasty stuff. I think it was a mistake on his part. It was a breaking ball -- not his real sharp one -- that he uses on a lot of right-handed hitters. I've chased that pitch many times, but he just left this one inside a bit."
"I got the pitch up," Witt said. "I was pitching him the same as I had earlier, but I just got the ball in the wrong location."
The Orioles got only four hits off Witt -- Lynn's two singles, Ripken's homer and an eighth-inning single by Juan Beniquez.
Baltimore didn't get a man on base until the fourth inning, but it made two running errors to take Witt out of that inning.
Alan Wiggins led off by walking, but Witt picked him off when Wiggins left early on an attempted steal of second. Witt then also walked Lee Lacy, and Lynn followed with the Orioles' first hit, a ground-ball single to right.
Lacy went to third on the play, and the Orioles went to sleep at the switch again. Angels right fielder George Hendrick threw toward third base, but shortstop Rick Burleson cut off the throw and quickly threw to first to get Lynn, who had rounded the bag too far.
Davis, whose fastball was clocked at 92 mph in both the first and ninth innings, was in trouble twice in the early innings, but he worked his way clear both times. In the first, Joyner singled with one out and, after Doug DeCinces flied to center, Reggie Jackson singled to left. But Davis got Downing on a grounder to Wiggins at second to end the inning.
In the third inning, Bob Boone got a leadoff single and DeCinces a two-out walk. Again, however, Davis got the man he needed to get, forcing Jackson to ground out to Wiggins to end the inning.
He would have gotten out of the sixth, too, if he hadn't wild-pitched Joyner to second with two outs, which set up Downing for the RBI single and the Angels for a 1-0 lead.
His best pitch was one that Jackson hit right back to him in the eighth when the Angels had one out, a 1-0 lead and two runners on.
"Certain pitchers on our staff don't get to that ball," Orioles Manager Earl Weaver said. "I've seen that ball go into center field for a hit I don't know how many times this year. That helps you all around and it's the thing Jim Palmer, Dave McNally and Mike Cuellar and those guys used to do all the time."
Davis got Downing on a ground ball to Ripken to open the ninth, but then Hendrick was safe on an error by second baseman Rex Hudler, a defensive replacement for Wiggins.
Rob Wilfong then singled to right, and Weaver walked to the mound and waved in Aase, who got Ruppert Jones and Boone on popups to Hudler and now has six saves and a victory in his last eight apperances. His 10th save tied him with Houston's Dave Smith and New York's Dave Righetti for the major league lead.
"He's just been amazing," Weaver said. "Without him, we could be in the cellar. If those 10 saves are losses, you're buried, and I don't think he has had an easy one yet."
Dennis Martinez pitched only 2 1/3 innings for Rochester tonight, allowing six hits, five walks and six earned runs. Maine's Dave Gallagher hit a first-inning grand slam. The Orioles had hoped Martinez would pitch well on this rehabilitation assignment so they'd be able to trade him to Minnesota or another interested team . . . Witt has now pitched three straight complete games, losing two of them; he's 3-7 against the Orioles for his career . . . Davis has only one complete game this season, but he has pitched into the ninth inning three times . . . Aase's ERA is down to 0.89; He has three of his saves for Davis, three for Mike Boddicker, two for Ken Dixon and one each for Scott McGregor and Mike Flanagan . . . The Orioles are 9-3 on this home stand, which ends at 1 p.m. Thursday against the Angels.